Nobel Al Gore?

A Prime Time Hypocrite

Al Gore has returned to the political spotlight in exalted fashion with a Nobel Peace Prize in hand, propping himself up for a potential presidential bid in 2008. Front and center in Gore’s new rhetorical entourage is the state of nature, and in particular, global warming. And while Gore may be delivering an important message about the fate of our fragile ecosystems, one must be wary of the messenger’s past. For Gore’s own environmental record leaves much to be desired.

Al Gore’s reputation as the Democratic standard bearer of environmentalism dates back to the early 1990’s when his book Earth in Balance outlined the perilous threats to the natural world. Gore also showboated his green credentials at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which garnered the newly minted Senator great respect among Beltway greens who praised him for his willingness to take sides on controversial issues. While serving as vice president under Bill Clinton, Gore was put in charge of the administration’s environmental portfolio, but had little to show for it.

As the Center for Public Integrity writes in their book The Buying Of The President 2000, “Personally and professionally the vice president has profited from Occidental largess. To this day he still draws $20,000 a year from a land deal in Tennessee brokered between his father and [former Occidental chairman Armand] Hammer. The total amount is more than $300,000.”

This relationship between Hammer, who was close with Al Gore Sr. as well, matured greatly during the late 1980s while Gore served in the Senate, including Kenneth Lay style trips on Hammer’s private plane and monster campaign contributions.

Oil companies during the 20th Century, reports the Center for Public Integrity, “have tried unsuccessfully to obtain control of two oil fields owned and operated by the federal government: the Teapot Dome field in Casper, Wyoming, and the Elk Hillsfield in Bakersfield, California.”

When Clinton and Gore took office in 1992, that was about to change. Perhaps only outdone by George W. Bush’s connections to Big Oil, Al Gore pressed President Clinton to approve handing over these public lands to the oil companies. The land, managed by the Navy, had held emergency oil reserves since 1912.

It took five years of lobbying on behalf of Big Oil, but Gore and Occidental were victories. In the fall of 1997 the Energy Department sold 47,000 acres of the Elk Hill reserve to Occidental.

Continues The Center for Public Integrity:

It was the largest privatization of federal property in U.S. history, one that tripled Occidental’s U.S. oil reserves overnight. Although the Energy Department was required to assess the likely environmental consequences of the proposed sale, it didn’t. Instead it hired a private company, ICF Kaiser International, Incorporated, to complete the assessment. The general chairman of Gore’s presidential campaign, Tony Coelho, sat on the board of directors.

The very same day the Elk Hills sale was announced, Gore delivered a speech to the White House Conference on Climate Change on the “terrifying prospect” of global warming, a problem he blamed on the unchecked use of fossil fuels such as oil.

Other than his alleged environmental convictions, Gore was a political coward when push came to shove in Washington. During Clinton’s campaign for president in 1992 Gore promised a group of supporters that Clinton’s EPA would never approve a hazardous waste incinerator located near an elementary school in Liverpool, Ohio, which was operated by WTI. Only three months into Clinton’s tenure the EPA issued an operating permit for the toxic burner. Gore raised no qualms. Not surprisingly, most of the money behind WTI came from the bulging pockets of Jackson Stephens, who just happened to be one of the Clinton/Gore’s top campaign contributors.

Perhaps Al Gore’s greatest blunder during his years as vice president was his allegiance to the conservative Democratic Leadership Council and their erroneous approach to environmental policy. Gore, like Clinton who quipped that “the invisible hand has a green thumb”, extolled a free-market attitude toward environmental issues. “Since the mid-1980s Gore has argued with increasing stridency that the bracing forces of market capitalism are potent curatives for the ecological entropy now bearing down on the global environment,” writes Jeffrey St. Clair in Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: The Politics of Nature. “He is a passionate disciple of the gospel of efficiency, suffused with an inchoate technopilia.”

Then came the first of the Clinton administration’s neoliberal wet dreams: NAFTA. After the passage of NAFTA, pollution along the US/Mexico border dramatically increased. And Gore should have known better; NAFTA allowed existing environmental laws in the United States to be undermined. Corporations looking to turn a profit by skating around enviro statutes at home moved down to Mexico where environmental standards and regulatory enforcement were scarce.

These follies were followed by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s destructive deal with the sugar barons of South Florida, which doomed vast acreages of the Everglades. Then Gore and Clinton capitulated to the demands of Western Democrats and yanked from its initial budget proposals a call to reform grazing, mining, and timber practices on federal lands. When Clinton convened a timber summit in Portland, Oregon, in April 1994, the conference was, as one might expect, dominated by logging interests. Predictably, the summit gave way to a plan to restart clear-cutting in the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest for the first time in three years, giving the timber industry its get rich wish. Gore, again, said nothing.

Forests under Clinton and Gore’s watch didn’t fare all that well. The Clinton administration’s Salvage Rider, known to radical environmentalists as the “Logging without Laws” rider, was perhaps the most gruesome legislation ever enacted under the pretext of preserving ecosystem health. Like Bush’s “Healthy Forests” plan, Clinton’s act was choc full of deception and special interest pandering. “When [the Salvage Rider] bill was given to me, I was told that the timber industry was circulating this language among the Northwest Congressional delegation and others to try to get it attached as a rider to the fiscal year Interior Spending Bill,” environmental lawyer Kevin Kirchner says. “There is no question that representatives of the timber industry had a role in promoting this rider. That is no secret.”

In fact, Mark Rey, a former lobbyist for the timber industry and head of the United States Forest Service under Bush, authored Bush’s forest plan and Clinton’s salvage bill while working as an aide for Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho. “Like Bush’s so-called ‘Healthy Forest Initiative,’ the Salvage Rider temporarily exempted salvage timber sales on federal forest lands from environmental and wildlife laws, administrative appeals, and judicial review,” contended the Wilderness Society.

“The Salvage Rider directed the Forest Service to cut old-growth timber in the Pacific Northwest that the agency had proposed for sale but subsequently withdrew due to environmental concerns, endangered species listings, and court rulings. Bush’s initiative also aims to increase logging of old-growth trees in the Pacific Northwest.”

Clinton and Gore during the time could have exercised presidential authority to force the relevant agencies to abandon all timber contracts that stemmed from the Salvage Rider. But they never flexed their muscle and instead sat by as the forests were subjected to gruesome annihilation.

An example of the ruin: Thousands of acres of healthy forestland across the West were rampaged. Washington’s Colville National Forest saw the clear cutting of over 4,000 acres. Thousands more in Montana’s Yaak River Basin, hundreds of acres of pristine forest land in Idaho, while the endangered Mexican Spotted Owl habitat in Arizona fell victim to corporate interests. Old growth trees in Washington’s majestic Olympic Peninsula — home to wild Steelhead, endangered Sockeye salmon, and threatened Marbled Murrelet — were chopped with unremitting provocation by the US Forest Service.

And the assault on nature continued with Gore’s blessing.

Around the same time Clinton and Gore, after great pressure from the food industry, signed away the Delaney Clause, which prohibited cancer-causing pesticides and ingredients to be placed in our food products. And after pressure from big corporations like chemical giant DuPont, the Clinton administration, with guidance from Gore’s office, cut numerous deals over the pesticide Methyl Bromide despite its reported effects of contributing to Ozone depletion.

As for Gore’s pet project, global warming, he did little to help curb its dramatic effects while handling Clinton’s enviro policies. In fact, Gore and Clinton made it easy for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to back out of the Kyoto Protocol by undermining the agreement in the late 1990s. It was the winter of 1997 when Vice President Gore, who was in direct control of Clinton’s environmental policies, flew to Japan to address the international delegation about the US’s position on the Kyoto Protocol. Gore and Clinton had just come off an election victory and it was time to pay back the big oil and gas companies who had handed over $6 million to their party the year prior.

Gore warmed up his attentive audience by affirming that Clinton and the US public believed the Earth was in peril and that all global citizens must act swiftly to save it. But in typical Gore doublespeak, he declared the United States would not support the agreement because it did not ask enough of developing nations, even though the US is the leading polluter in the world.

As Gore put it then, “Signing the Protocol, while an important step forward, imposes no obligations on the United States. The Protocol becomes binding only with the advice and consent of the US Senate.”

Gore soon returned to Washington only to reiterate his message that the Clinton administration would not put the Kyoto Protocol before the Senate. “As we have said before, we will not submit the Protocol for ratification without the meaningful participation of key developing countries in efforts to address climate change,” he said.

It was at that moment when Clinton and Gore ruined any chances of the Kyoto Protocol being honestly debated in Washington. Later in November of 1998 Gore “symbolically” signed the accord, likely to appease his environmental pals like the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope.

But the Vice President’s tepid gesture couldn’t have carried less weight. The Clinton administration, with Gore’s guidance, refused to allow the Republican controlled Senate to decide on the Kyoto Protocol for themselves. Gore advised Clinton not to send the Protocol to the Senate to be ratified. The blame could have burdened the Republican Party, not the Democrats and the Clinton administration. But instead the buck stopped with Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Predictably, President Bush followed their lead.

And there you have it. It was Mr. Global Warming himself who first tried to kill off the Kyoto Protocol.

And the list goes on.

So while Al Gore flies around the country and overseas with trophy in hand to preach to the masses about the dangerous effects of global warming and its inherent threat to life on Earth — you may want to ask yourself whether the hypocritical Gores of the world are more a part of the problem than a solution to the dire climate that surrounds us all.

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press in June 2008. Check out the Red State Rebels site. Read other articles by Joshua.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. joed said on October 15th, 2007 at 9:19am #

    Presidential Dream team “08”
    They both have the Peace Prize
    Put peace and justice back on the table

  2. gerald spezio said on October 15th, 2007 at 9:59am #

    Some tickets that we could ride, if we are not too lucky.

    Hilarious Clinton/Monica Lewinsky – keep the family together ticket plus the Goddess

    Hilarious Clinton/Ariel Sharon – the Zionist ticket to Iran & beyond

    Joe Lieberman/Alan Dershowitz – the rule of lawyers ticket to Zion

    Hilarious Clinton/Oprah Winfrey – the pure Goddess/feminist ticket to a loving Matriarchy finally

    Al Gore/Tipper Gore – the full figured family ticket to earth community

    Barak Obama/Eddie Murphy – the underclass ticket to kill my

    Puddy Guiliani/Jenna Jameson – you can’t hurry love; no ticket req’d

    Deli Lama/Tofu Butterfly – spirituality/new age ticket to the holy ghost

    Fred Thompson/Mitt Romney – the incompetents ticket to nowhere

    Scooter Liebowitz/Jack Abramhoff – unfrocked lawyers for justice

    General Betrayus/General Theory – War, war, and more war ticket

  3. Jeff said on October 15th, 2007 at 10:28am #

    Your article, while well-written and executed, may or may not be correct. The problem you have with me isn’t that I refuse to believe Gore could be full of crap. To the contrary, I expect he probably is.

    The fact is I question you, the author. How can I know how much of what you say is true, partially true, or false? How much of the information you presented has been checked and verified? Has Gore had the opportunity to review your claims?

    Even more to the point…what is your purpose in writing this article? What’s in it for you? What are you hoping to affect? Sadly, in this day and age two things have emerged as crystal clear to me:

    1. ALL politicians are corrupt or corruptible. Republicans, Democrats or whatever — POWER CORRUPTS. The money they need to win office is not free money and there are debts to be paid for sure.

    2. The internet provides everyone with a vehicle to write what they want and immediately publish it. There is no requirement for fairness or accuracy or anything.

    So while I cannot call you a liar outright, I must wonder if what you are saying is even close to the truth. If the whole purpose is to cast doubt on Gore, than you have accomplished that.

  4. Kevin Kvisle said on October 15th, 2007 at 1:41pm #

    Well, this is juicy stuff – good on ya, I was not aware of it [but it should be verified by each of us, as Jeff said].

    However, even if Gore is a total hypocrit, there was no fault found with Gore’s message on global warming.

    We should still be willing to do all we can to reduce emissions – they are STILL INCREASING!!!

    If global warming continues, there is much to lose for the average person, and it seems as if there is much to gain for the Elite Wealthy people from continuing the energy industry exactly as it is. WE must put our efforts into stopping them – would you agree with that?

  5. Michael Kenny said on October 15th, 2007 at 2:51pm #

    Bear in mind that the real point is not Gore. The young are firmly convinced of ecology, which means it will certainly be the progressive political ideology of the 21st century. And not just the young! The Pope, at age 80, is putting solar panels on the roof of the Vatican and planting forests in Hungary. So old dogs can learn new tricks! The Nobel Committee is merely trying to say that it sees the way the world is going.

  6. Hue Longer said on October 15th, 2007 at 8:24pm #

    I’ll take a crack at his message Kevin…

    Global warming exists and “man” is causing it…fine, but it’s not news and if anyone needs a celebrity to appeal to to prove it, this is the wrong guy to use when engaging in that fallacy ( Who would get sold by Gore who hadn’t already known this? Republicans?).

    But his conclusions are where his intentional crime lies…being eco conscious should be a virtue, but battling the consumption and greed which Gore took part in assuring would continue, can not be fought with consumer guilt. I think anyone reading this article (good article by the way Joshua) can see that alot of money and politics is in place to make sure your clothes hanging efforts amount to little more than what they are.

    So of course he won’t dare say that the unregulated capitalism and corporate shilling he participated in is to blame. Funny thing about guilt is that people don’t want to feel it too long. So after seeing Al Gore’s movie, while driving down the poorly designed road, in a poorly designed, polluted urban consumption center in a vehicle whose profits insisted on destroying public transportation, one is left with no answers or questions other than that the end of the world is their petty fault. It’s enough to make even the people who already understood global warming’s dangers to say, “ah fuck it, it’s all bullshit…gimme mine in super-size and I want my neighbor’s SUV”…after all, billions and billions are spent assuring us to purge this way.

    Gore’s insincere, teeny tiny little hedge bet won’t do shit in advertising to us that we change much less draw focus to the greater criminal causes which he belongs to.

  7. Deadbeat said on October 15th, 2007 at 10:38pm #

    Gore never say an MX Missile system he didn’t like.
    Who introduced Willie Horton into the 1988 Presidential Campaign?
    No it wasn’t Lee Atwater.

    It was Al (racist) Gore.

  8. Hue Longer said on October 16th, 2007 at 1:37am #

    and you reminded me Deadbeat…Global warming fronting aside, it was the fugging Nobel PEACE prize!….tragic

    (ah yeah, the Willie thing went down in our collective modified history as a republican stunt…thanks for the reminder)

  9. gerald spezio said on October 16th, 2007 at 7:10am #

    It is inescapably and painfully true.

    Demo Al Gore “selected” foaming-at-the-mouth Israel Firster Joe Lieberman as his “liberal” running mate in 2000.

    Yes, Gore could not have been worse.
    And almost surely better than the murdering and lying neo-con monsters that we have now.

    But, let’s suppose that the corrupt Repub lawyer/peeyar whores didn’t successfully sucker punch us with the Florida vote scam, as in lawyer divorce for the working public.

    Many passionate political activists are still wailing about this rip off, as they should.

    All to prove that we are ALWAYS caught by every hair, short and long.

    And some more not too imaginative fiction;
    Our hero and Demo Al Gore is triumphfully elected, but croaks later from too much loving political therapy from a beautiful feminist yuppie lawyer on her way up named Meyrev from Tel Aviv.

    Yalie lawyer and Senator from Israel, Joe Lieberman legally ascends to the Throne of Supernation and assumes total control of its awesome power for goodness and mercy.

    Joe calls on his legal skills and his lawyer colleagues in the US Senate to establish himself as Abraham’s own infallible Fuhrer.

    Joe’s yuppie peeyar people market;
    Smite ye the Islamofascists
    “Onward Christian soldiers marching on to Zion”

    For peace, justice, freedom, democracy, etc.

    The rapture goes to fast forward.

    Yabut, is Gore still the best of the worst?


    Will the game change?

    No way.









  10. Perezoso said on October 16th, 2007 at 5:56pm #

    The Occi. /Elk Hills story more than likely provides many clues to both US and Cali. politics over the last 15-20 years. Gore’s own daddy was an Occi. exec. Enron had connections to Occi.; the leading Occi. CEO (Irani or something) also parties with Arnold, and contributed to his campaign and the Recall. It’s like bad Pynchon. One can be fairly sure that the Fed sale of Elk Hills (brokered by Clinton/Gore) probably kickbacked 1000s to Al Jr., and still does.

    There was a big-shekels civil case involving Occi. in the Kern courts a few years ago, and even some Kern yokels were concerned. Not surprisingly, the Kern court decided in favor of Occi.–though the decision was probably brokered out on one of those fancy West Bakersfield country clubs, where much Cali political planning between petrol. execs and their political yes-men (whether Gore, Schwarzenegger, Roy Ashburn, etc.) takes place, unknown to many.

  11. Deadbeat said on October 16th, 2007 at 9:50pm #

    spezio makes an excellent observation. I often hear liberals (like Michael Moore who now advocates for a Gore run) say that if Gore had won the election the U.S. would not be in the mess in Iraq. However as spezio remind us that Lieberman would have been the Veep as well as President of the Senate. Odd are his role, actions and advocacy would have been no different than Chaney’s and other neocons/Zionist within the Bush Administration. Gore has never come out forcefully against the war and considering his record as a racist, neoliberal, warmonger it is incredible that he has been grant this “peace” prize. However as we know the Nobel Piece [sic] “Prize” is nothing more than a political tool of the ruling class.

    Just a side note, Gore introduced Willie Horton into the 1988 campaign to bash Michael Dukasis furlough program. Gore, as a DLC Democrat, wanted to show his reactionary credibility of attracting the ” southern white male voter” also known as the “swing” (with all the allusion to nooses) vote.

  12. gerald spezio said on October 17th, 2007 at 7:53am #

    Here is a bewildering dilemma for intellectual “discourse.”

    Some supposedly serious academic historians both politically left and right on the fascist dole with super benefits play a game called hypertext, or “what if.”

    Sometimes it is called social science.

    Would Joe Lieberman have been better or worse that Dick Cheney?

    Could Alan the Greenspun accuse vice-pres Lieber-Man of doing Iraq down and dirty because of the oil?

    Could Lieberman adapt his rhetoric as a trained and skilled lawyer to make people believe that it is because of the space aliens and child abusers?

    Academic murder like cyber murder is fun.

    Israel uber alles. Ach du lieber.

  13. Rick said on October 18th, 2007 at 2:36pm #

    You Nader voters should have voted for Gore in 2000!!!!!!

    Just kidding.

    Just when we thought we’d never see Gore a presidential candidate again, the Nobel Committee had to give him that goddamn prize. Thanks a lot Sweden.

  14. dennis said on October 18th, 2007 at 4:01pm #

    Jeff, it only takes a minute on the web to verify most, if not all, of the facts the author writes. Anyway, hooray, now the US might get a president who’ll definately tackle the world’s foremost problem. (if it is a problem – I’m not convinced)